Diversity and Design in Higher Education

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Posted By Jerrod Travlee


To say 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement.  While going through a global pandemic, racial tensions were also spotlighted in the U.S. due to the death of George Floyd.  Though diversity has recently started making its way into the conversation, this event caused many higher education institutions to evaluate whether they were truly making the progress they set out to at the top of the year and in years past. 

Diversity is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as, “The condition of having or being composed of differing elements: variety especially: the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”  Yes, diversity thrives when there’s an inclusion of different races and culture, however that is not an exhaustive list.  Diversity is also about differences in gender, age, sexual orientation, and much more.  This is where I drew my inspiration for the dashboard I created.

Click on the image to check out the interactive dashboard!


All institutions have goals, which are often referred to as KPI’s or key performance indicators.  With diversity being an important topic of conversation, I built an admissions scorecard that focuses on out-of-state students, people of color, and gender.  In the “Overview” section you can see the change of admissions over time for my chosen KPIs. 



The use of a sparkline helps the dashboard user to quickly understand  admissions trends.  The accompanying large number, called a BAN, boldly calls out the percentage of change from the last year.  This gives the user a glimpse of whether admissions is improving.



To get further context the eye moves to the next section: “Goals.”  Here the user can see how closely admitted students are hitting institution goals through the use of a bullet graph.  Need more detail?  Simply head down to the “College Detail” section.  The user can see admitted students per respective college in a butterfly chart.  Using a butterfly chart is helpful in this instance because I put admitted students who identify with the KPI on the left and others outside the focus group on the right.  Since putting labels on every single bar becomes distracting, I created a parameter that shows and hides the labels.  Now the user can decide on what view they want to see. 


Tableau makes it easy to draw inspiration, create goals and track them over time.  Though this data isn’t tied to a specific university or college, it easily communicates an idea that is very resonate right now.  Imagine seeing this dashboard and realizing you have yet to hit your out-of-state student goal with only 2 months left of recruiting before numbers are solidified?  A missed goal could result in significant consequences, like a lack of funding. More relevant here is the consequence of a lack of diversity in the entering class.  Students from different states have different growth experiences. Bringing them together creates a wealth of new ideas.  Using a dashboard like this helps an institution take action on diversity efforts ensuring it doesn’t fall short on its goals and broader mission!  

Jerrod Travlee is a Solutions Engineer for Tableau’s State, Local & Education Team. Jerrod’s day to day includes working with higher education institutions as well as K-12 to make breakthrough advances with analysis and create stunning visualizations. *Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer*

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One thought on “Diversity and Design in Higher Education
  1. Norman

    Hi love your work. Was wondering how you were able to include the term and year into the sparklines?

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